Philip Levitt, M.D. - Company Message
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Sacrificing for one's patients

At every med school commencement, the freshly minted MDs are told to put their patients’ well being ahead of their own. In the real world of medical practice this usually means making the minor concession of not doing surgery or other invasive procedure when it is not of clear benefit to the patient. In the long run it makes little difference for doctors financially but has big benefits professionally and personally. As my mentor, Joe Ransohoff, the long time chief of neurosurgery at NYU would say, “You gotta live with yourself.

Who’s Protecting the Patient?


Public access to the National Practitioner Data Bank was blocked by the Department of Health and Human Services during the past month. A doctor listed therein for having been sued successfully by several patients complained that a newspaper in his area had published that he had also been disciplined by one of the hospitals where he practiced. Alan Bavley, a reporter for the Kansas City Star, had done some detective work with encoded information in the data bank, found the hospital disciplinary measure and by publishing it crossed a line drawn by HHS.

A Man for Patient Safety

            Frightening headlines about the high incidence of harmful medical errors in hospitals have screamed from the front pages of America’s newspapers for twenty-five years, claiming that an estimated 100,000 die annually. In response, the medical profession has relied on the systems approach, which emphasizes the repair of flawed delivery systems as opposed to punishing defective caregivers. I learned as a hospital chief of staff for five years that the blame and punish method is much harder to carry out than the systems method.

Barking up the wrong tree?

         In her New York Times health care blog post of August 4, 2011, entitledA Better Way to Keep Patients Safe, Dr. Pauline Chen writes about the consternation that met the lack of improvement in the number of deaths due to medical errors in the decade since the publication ofTo Err is Human.That book, by the Institute of Medicine, disclosed the high incidence of fatal medical errors in U.S. hospitals.The supporting article in the New England Journal of Medicine that Dr.

Making patients safer requires heavy lifting

       Frightening headlines about the high incidence of harmful medical errors in hospitals have screamed from the front pages of America’s newspapers for twenty-five years, claiming that an estimated 100,000 die annually. In response, the medical profession has relied on the systems approach, which emphasizes the repair of flawed delivery systems as opposed to punishing defective caregivers. I learned as a hospital chief of staff for five years that the blame and punish method is much harder to carry out than the systems method.

One week of doctors' misdeeds in the news

In the proposal for my book,The Wrong Stuff, I mention that a new scandalous headline about bad doctors appears once a month. This was an underestimate, at least as far as this week of July 16, 2011, is concerned. The following stories were published while HHS and the state boards of medicine insist that most of the bad results in medicine are due to poor delivery systems. Here's the list for this week:

  • In Illinois a new law went into effect to revoke permanently the licenses of health care practitioners convicted of sex crimes.

Making hospitals safe

What is the best way to make hospitals safe?
           
             I'm a retired neurosurgeon who served for five years as a hospital chief of staff. I spent endless hours at meetings directed at improving patient safety. Eleven years ago patient safety was moved from the back to the front burners of hospital governance when the Institute of Medicine publishedTo Err is Humanon the Internet.



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